Adventist Community Services volunteers were recently recognized for their selfless service to Jefferson City, Missouri, following a tornado last May that tore through the heart of the city, demolishing homes, apartment buildings, a school and the decommissioned state penitentiary.

A Multi-Agency Resource Center was immediately opened for those most affected. ACS volunteers served as ambassadors, ushering each family through the various stations, making sure all their needs were met and questions answered. They were recently recognized for their service by Jefferson City mayor Carrie Tergin and city council members in a special ceremony.

ACS volunteers first became involved with MARCs in Missouri following severe flooding in 2015. Organizers were so impressed by their thoughtfulness, loving care and efficiency that they requested ACS volunteers be present as ambassadors at every MARC going forward.

Regional ACS coordinators Bob and Nancy Tarasenko and Chuck and Edna Horner were among those who responded to Jefferson City, helping with the MARC alongside other ACS volunteers, state and local agencies, private partners and other faith-based charities and organizations.

After the MARC closed, Cole County and Jefferson City leaders requested that a distribution center continue serving the impacted residents. The Tarasenkos and the Horners took the lead. Nancy commuted two hours every day to manage the center for over a month, working more than 12 hours per day handling setup, operations and overseeing volunteers. The Horners served as assistant managers during that time and took over management of the center from July through August, staying in Jefferson City during the week and returning home only on weekends.

Working closely with the Capital West Christian Church of Jefferson City and the United Way of Central Missouri, the distribution center was able to receive, process and distribute $750,000 worth of material donations for residents of Cole and Miller counties.

Both couples were recognized as Volunteers of the Year by SEMA at the 2019 Show-Me Partnership Symposium in October.

Rachel Ashworth is a member of Peace Point Chapel in Sikeston, Missouri, and a blogger for OUTLOOK magazine.